The Kennedy Center Honors Awards Becomes More Inclusive After Latino Protests
- 05/21/2013 by Mike Boehm (LA Times)
The John F. Kennedy center for the Performing Arts announced that it has revised the selection process for the Honors awards. The revision was a response to a year's worth of protests from Latino groups. In the past 35 years, only two of the 170 winners were Latino. The new selection process aims to be more inclusive by incorporating a six-member panel to choose 10 to 20 finalists, as well as suggestions from the public. Each member on the panel will serve three-year terms and will sort through the public suggestions to pick the finalists.
While these changes will somewhat help the Latino presence at the awards ceremony, Felix Sanchez, chairman of the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts, says they are not enough. Even though there are new members providing suggestions for honorees, the final decision still rests with the same members: the center's president, the board chair, and the awards show production team. Additionally, the original artist committee of 70 members will still make suggestions with the former honorees. Members of this committee, which lacks sufficient Latino representation, will serve five-year terms. Sanchez suggests that a completely new arrangement of judges is necessary to truly change the outcome of the selection process. Sanchez's group also was not asked for input on these changes.
Chita Rivera, one of two Latino winners in the past 35 years, receives a standing ovation at the 2002 Kennedy Center Honors Ceremony with fellow winner James Earl Jones.